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Unemployment Down to 6.3% as April Payrolls Exceed Forecasts

Employers across the country added 288,000 jobs to their payrolls in April, bringing the unemployment rate down to a new post-crash low. According to the latest report from the Labor Department, the rate of unemployment last month fell to 6.3 percent, down nearly half a percentage point after a flat March. At an estimated 9.8 million, the number of unemployed people was down by 733,000.

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Report: Buying Trumps Renting in Half the Country

A recent break-even horizon analysis by Zillow finds buying a home remains a better longer-term financial decision than renting in half of U.S. metros. "Rents keep rising, and mortgage interest rates remain very low, which is helping to skew the rent vs. buy decision toward buying for those who can afford it," said Zillow chief economist Dr. Stan Humphries.

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Construction Spending Edges Up as Builders Maintain Caution

According to figures released Thursday by the Commerce Department, total construction spending in March bumped up 0.2 percent to an estimated adjusted annual rate of $942.5 billion. Compared to a year prior, March spending was up 8.4 percent. In the private sector, construction spending was put at an estimated rate of $679.6 billion, with residential projects accounting for $369.8 billion of that total.

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Mortgage Rates Dip on Dim Economic Growth

In its weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, Freddie Mac recorded the average 30-year fixed rate at 4.29 percent (0.7 point) for the week ending May 1, down from 4.33 percent. Freddie Mac’s chief economist, Frank Nothaft, pinned the declines on disappointing numbers for gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter. According to an advance estimate, the economy expanded at a rate of 0.1 percent last quarter, well short of market forecasts.

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Home Flips Drop as Investors Cool

Home "flips" accounted for 3.7 percent of all home sales in the first quarter, RealtyTrac reported Thursday—indicating investors are cooling as the market continues to change shape. "Slowing home price appreciation early this year in many of the most popular flipping markets put some investors in danger of flying too close to the sun," said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac.

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First-Quarter Refinance Stats Point to Equity Build-Up

According to Freddie Mac's latest report, 39 percent of refinancers last quarter chose to shorten their term, up slightly over the prior quarter and the highest share since 1992. Meanwhile, the share of borrowers extracting home equity stayed relatively low. Together, the two stats suggest borrowers are seeking to strengthen their own equity positions as home values continue to rise, the company says.

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CFPB Amends Mortgage Rules for Nonprofits

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced Wednesday it is proposing “minor changes” to its mortgage rules to assist nonprofit organizations in getting loans to underserved communities. “Today’s proposal would maintain those strong protections, while making minor changes to ensure consumers have access to credit,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a statement.

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